Viewing posts for the category Economy and society

Medieval markets, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and the IPMs

The Inquisitions Post Mortem are a key source for the study of economic history in the Middle Ages; among the wealth of varied historical evidence they contain are included records and valuations of medieval markets and fairs. Our project, 'Placing Medieval Markets in their Landscape Context through the Portable Antiquities Scheme Data', hosted by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS, at the British Museum, examines medieval commercial sites and their relationships with the small archaeological finds in the PAS database. The PAS was established in 1997 and today contains information on over 1,200,000 objects found by members of the public, mostly by metal-detecting. Some 190,000 finds are medieval (1066-1540). We aim to study the emergence, growth and decline of medieval markets, and associated infrastructure such as roads and navigable waterways, through this archaeological evidence.

A Pleasure Ground for the Duke: The Landscape of Fulbrook, Warwickshire

In this extended feature Professor Chris Dyer, emeritus professor of regional and local history at the University of Leicester, explores what the IPM of John, duke of Bedford, taken in 1436, can tell us about the changing landscape of Fulbrook in central Warwickshire.

Wara terre: an obscure Staffordshire landholding unit in Margaret de Bromley's Assignment of Dower, 1420

The 1420 assignment of dower to Margaret, widow of Thomas de Bromley, esquire, has been calendared in CIPM xxi, as document 173, but with a number of gaps.  The head and foot of the original inquisition are damaged and parts of the rest were too faded to read.  However the faded sections can mostly be made out with effort, especially with the aid of an ultra-violet lamp, and they have been added to the updated calendar text below, which is now complete save for the introduction and a part of the final section lost from the original. Additionally, a mistranslation of the name of an uncommon landholding unit, the wara terre, has been corrected.

CIPM xxiii.538: markets and fairs in the IPMs

Among much else the Lincolnshire IPM of Thomas de Roos, knight, taken in 1430, recorded the existence at Wragby of a weekly market on Wednesdays, and an annual fair on the feast of the Ascension. Both had also been recorded in 1421. [1. CIPM xxi.845, xxiii.548.] The Wednesday market is known from other sources and is listed in a comprehensive Gazetteer of markets and fairs. [2.; print version, S. Letters et al., Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516, List and Index Society Special Series 32-33 (2003). Information on fairs and markets is drawn from the online text unless otherwise noted.] The fair is not listed, although its existence is confirmed by an account of 1423-4. [3. SC 6/1121/16 m. 17.] This is not unusual: the IPMs are a significant source of information on markets and fairs, and they are particularly valuable for the fifteenth century when the history of many such institutions is obscure. IPMs can shed light on the decline and disappearance of markets, and consequently on economic contraction and changing patterns of trade. As is often the case, though, the inquisitions need to be used with caution: detailed study of markets and fairs in the IPMs tells us not only about those institutions but about the value and reliability of the inquisitions themselves.

The extents: a short introduction (CIPM XXII.799)

The detailed extents found in many IPMs are a key source of information for economic, agrarian, and landscape history. The extent was a kind of survey: that is, a written description of a property. There were several other varieties, including demesne surveys (records of the lands exploited by the lord of the manor), custumals (records of tenants and their rents and services), and  rentals (records of tenants and their rents).[1. P. D. A. Harvey, Manorial Records, rev. ed. (1999), ch. 2.] Extents are especially valuable because they describe both the demesne and the rents and services of tenants, providing valuations for each item. They therefore record and value all the constituent elements of an estate – arable, pasture, meadow, mills, fisheries, buildings and so, as well as tenants – providing important evidence of how land and other seigneurial resources were exploited, and of their relative importance and productivity. The extents made for private landlords are generally reliable and authoritative, but they do not survive in great numbers or for all areas of the country. The extents in IPMs are much more numerous, and cover a much wider social and geographical range, but they are not as reliable as those made for private landlords. This article provides a brief survey of the problems and illustrates them with a detailed comparison between the 1427 IPM extent of Stow Bardolph (Norf.) and contemporary accounts.[2. For fuller accounts, see the essays by Dyer and Holford in Companion.]